Inter-Island Travel in Tahiti

Due to their varying diversity, travelling between Tahiti’s individual islands is very common, even for honeymooners on a short stay.

The Leeward Islands, including Bora Bora, and Moorea are both less than an hour’s flight away from Tahiti, and offer different experiences and styles.

The Tuamotos and the Marquesas are even more remote – an hour and a half and three and a half hours, repsectively – but offer even better diving and increased seclusion.

Travel around Tahiti by air

French Polynesia supports two domestic airlines – Air Moorea and Air Tahiti. Note that Air Tahiti has no affiliation with the international airline Air Tahiti Nui.

Click here to view Papeete’s Faa’a Airport in Google Earth. Air Moorea offers 10-minute flights between Papeete and Moorea approximately every half hour between 5:30 a.m. and 10:15 p.m., weekdays.

Air Tahiti provides more extensive service around the islands, including eight daily flights from Papeete to Bora Bora, three to Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Atolls and one or two to the Marquesas, not to mention transfers between the smaller islands.

Click here to spot Bora Bora Airport in Google Earth. Flights to Bora Bora last 50 minutes, while those to the Tuamotu Atolls are slightly longer, around an hour fifteen to an hour and a half. The Marquesas are the furthest distance away, and require a three and a half hour flight from Papeete. Helicopter transfers from Papeete and sightseeing tours on Polynesia Helicopters are also available. Speak to your BigDay travel specialist for opportunities near your resort.

Travel around Tahiti by boat

Ferry through Tahitian islands. Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme. Moorea The most popular boat trip that honeymooners take is from the island of Tahiti to Moorea. There are a number of ferries that travel this route, most of which carry between 400 and 600 passengers at a time!

The cost is approximately $10 a person, one-way, with a travel time of 30-45 minutes. Ferries depart every few hours from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. The different companies usually leave around the same time, so plan your departure or you’ll waste precious beach time sitting at the docks!

Leeward Islands (Bora Bora, Taha’a, Raiatea, Huahine) There are four freighter and passenger services that travel from Tahiti to the Leeward Islands, each departing two to three times a week. The trip takes about 8 hours from Tahiti to Bora Bora and is usually overnight.

The smallest boat is the Hawaiki Nui, which holds 12 people. The largest, the Vaeanu, has room for 90 passengers. The price averages $50/person.

Due to the plain and basic accommodations on the boats, many honeymooners prefer the comfort of flying directly to Bora Bora, known affectionately as BOB due to its airport code, or elsewhere in the Leeward Islands from Papeete.

After arriving at the Bora Bora Airport, which located on a motu to the northwest of the mainland, travelers will take a boat shuttle directly to their resort, or head to Vaitape for a catamaran or shuttle to their accommodations. Click here to see Vaitape in Google Earth.

Yacht cruises around the islands on the Nomade are available and visit Bora Bora, Taha’a, Raiatea and Huahine.

Tuamotu Atolls (Tikehau, Rangiroa, Manihi, Fakarava) Supply boats from Tahiti to the Tuamotu Atolls will pick up passengers for a price, but accommodations are very limited and not recommended for those with limited time in Tahiti and her islands.

A better option is to fly to the islands – it takes less than an hour – and cruise around them on the Haumana catamaran.

Marquesas Islands (Nuka Hiva, Hiva Oa) Due to the remote location of Gauguin’s adopted home – 800 miles from the Society Islands – there are few sailing opportunities to the Marquesas. However, the mixed freighter/cruiser Aranui 3 leaves from Tahiti every three weeks for a two week journey to the islands and back.

For honeymooners, a three and a half hour flight directly to the islands is recommended.

Travel around Tahiti by bus and public transportation

Travel around Tahiti on le truck. Photo courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme. Public transportation in Tahiti and the larger islands takes the form of the venerable ‘Le Truck’ – the local bus service. Cheap, effective and hugely popular with both locals and tourists, le trucks pick up and drop off passengers along established routes. If you wish to travel via le truck, the concierge at your resort will direct you to the correct line.

Note that only large islands of Tahiti, Huahine, and Raiatea have public transport – indeed, some of the smaller islands have no automobile traffic at all!

Taxis are available throughout tourist areas in Papeete and the bigger cities, although always verify the fare before getting in.
Renting a car in Tahiti

Renting a car in Tahiti is an option, although most honeymooners prefer to avoid the extra cost and stress of driving in a foreign country. If you wish for a car rental, your BigDay travel specialist can arrange one for you, however, Tahiti specialist Michelle says, “The only island I would suggest a car/moped or quad rental would be Moorea,” which can be set up for a day or hourly rental upon arrival.

If you do rent a car – make sure to return it with a full gas tank or a finger-wagging agent might scold you and send you scurrying to a station 10 minutes before your flight departs from the airport!

Other forms of transportation in Tahiti

Additional ways of getting around the larger islands include bicycling – rentals are available at many mainland resorts – and, in the Marquesas, by horseback!

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